#523 Towson University Tigersvs.#524 George Mason University Patriots
Written by Benjamin Hayes
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 12, EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va., 7pmET
Line: George Mason -1.5
Towson beat George Mason last season, 75-54, from SECU Arena. The Tigers are coming off a 20-win season and return three starters. However, they need to replace starting point guard Byron Hawkins, who transferred to Murray State. George Mason won a disappointing 11 games last season and returns three starters. They were a very young team last season under first-year coach Dave Paulsen, who will still rely on some young talent this season.
Towson finished 11-7 in the CAA last season and was picked to finish second this season. That’s because they return second-team All-CAA selection William Adala-Moto (13.9ppg, 8.3rpg, 94 turnovers) and third-team All-CAA pick Mike Morsell (13ppg, 4.0rpg). Adala-Moto (6-7, 245) produced big numbers after transferring from Wake Forest. He’s a power forward who can play inside or out. Morsell is a talented wing who shot just 39 percent from the floor and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc last season. Neither players was a consistent threat from deep last season. Their best three-point shooter was 6-5, 230-pound forward John Davis (10.3ppg, 5.5rpg, 38% 3-point), who is expected to move from the wing to the post and come off the bench. That means Adala-Moto could play some center with Davis on the floor.
At point guard, the Tigers have to replace Hawkins (13.2ppg, 39% FG), who could shoot but averaged just 2.1 assists per game. Eddie Keith II (5.1ppg) and juco transfer Brian Starr (6-4, 190) will battle it out for playing time. Towson averaged 71.5 points, shot just 42.6 percent from the field (244th) and 31.7 percent (300th) from three-point range. They win with rebounding (+10.4 margin) and defense. They forced teams to shoot just 41.8 percent from the field and allowed 67.5 points per game last season.
GMU lost two starters including 6-10 big man Shevon Thompson, who led the team with 10.6 rebounds and 1.0 block per game. However, his offense was inconsistent. You could say that about the entire team as the Patriots shot just 28.5 percent from three-point range in Atlantic Ten conference games. The good news is that sophomore point guard Otis Livingston II (11.9ppg, 3.6apg) is back after a solid rookie season. He started every game and shot 35.4 percent from three-point range. Sophomore Jair Grayer (9.5ppg) also returns and made 31 starts last season. He wasn’t shy about shooting, taking 145 three-pointers and making just 29.7 percent of them. Guard Marquise Moore (11.4ppg, 6.1 rpg) injured his ankle on Feb. 3 and wasn’t the same after the injury. If he can get back to 100 percent, that will give the Patriots another wing scorer. They’ll need Jalen Jenkins (6-7, 245) to take over for Thompson up front. He averaged 7.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg last season.
As for numbers, it starts on both ends of the floor. On offense, George Mason shot just 40.6 percent from the field (319) and 67.1 percent from the line (282). They allowed teams to shoot 35.3 percent from three-point range.
George Mason is:
Towson last played in George Mason in 2013 and won the game in overtime. The Patriots were a better team back then as they are now rebuilding under Paulsen. They don’t have the size up front to compete with Towson, who is a dominant rebounding team. They’ll need to win an ugly game in the fifties, although the Tigers can play that style.
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Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!